Venezuela announces 'economic emergency' over currency crisis
Venezuela's government has declared an "economic emergency," giving more powers to the nation's president to regulate businesses, industrial productivity, and electronic currency transactions, Press TV reported.
The emergency was declared late Friday hours after President Nicolas Maduro delivered a State of the Nation address to the National Assembly for the first time since his center-right political opponents won control over the the country's legislative body.
"We are confronting a true storm," Maduro stated during his speech before the Congress. "This is not Maduro's storm, as some believe, it is a situation throughout the country that affects every Venezuelan family."
He further pledged the government would continue servicing foreign debt despite slipping international reserves, discounting mounting pessimism on Wall Street about a potential default this year.
Venezuela's top executive also insisted "the time has come" to increase the nation's heavily-subsidized fuel prices.
Meanwhile, the Latin American country's central bank announced that the oil-dependent economy of the member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) shrank 4.5 percent in the first nine months of 2015.
The annual rate of inflation during the same period climbed to a whopping 141.5 percent, reportedly the highest in the world.
Analysts forecast that Venezuela's economy will not perform any better in 2016 amid the plummeting oil prices.
President Maduro lost control of the National Assembly following a December election as a result of growing voter anger over the nation's persisting economic troubles.
Venezuela depends on oil for nearly 96 percent of its hard currency revenues. The average price for its basket of oil and refined products dropped this week to $24.38, the lowest level in over 12 years.